Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University
National Consortium of Civil Society Organisations on MGNREGA
Collaborative Research and Dissemination
As the Covid-19 pandemic fades from media headlines and perhaps even public consciousness, it is important to ensure that lessons learned are not forgotten. India’s social protection systems were put to a gruelling test during the two years of the pandemic. We gained valuable insights into what worked and what did not. Two programmes stand out in the role they played protecting vulnerable households from the worst of the pandemic’s effects. These are the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
This report documents the main findings of a study of eight blocks across four states of India on MGNREGA functioning during the pandemic year (Financial Year 2020 – 21). A key motivation of the study was to determine the extent to which working in the programme provided income support or security to vulnerable households during the pandemic. Another important objective was to estimate the extent of and reasons for unmet demand, i.e., a discrepancy between the number of days a household desires to have MGNREGA work and the number of days it actually gets work. Finally, we also investigated other aspects of MGNREGA such as programme awareness, its utility, registration of work demand, modes of work availability, and payment of wages.